What are Father's Visitation Rights in California?

A dad’s’ visitation rights in California, and in most other states for that matter, depend largely on whether they are married. Married fathers tend to have an easier time in exercising visitation rights than do unmarried fathers who may have to go through various legal processes to prove paternity and obtain a Court order granting them visitation rights.

Unless they obtain a Court order for visitation rights, a father to a child born out of wedlock has no rights to visitation. To obtain these rights, a father must file a Petition to Establish Parentage, as well as an Order to Show Cause for Visitation.

Either the mother or the father may request a DNA test to prove whether the man claiming to be the father of the child is in fact the biological father. In some cases, the mother will request a DNA test in order to collect child support from the father.

If paternity is proven, the Court will examine various factors in determining whether the father has the right to visitation. In most cases, the Court will allow visitation rights to the father unless it is proven and/or determined that it is in the best interests of the child that the father not be given this right. Such cases may include those in which the father has a criminal record that includes domestic violence, or is a registered sex offender. Of course, cases may vary and other factors may preclude a father from being granted visitation rights.

When the father is married and going through a divorce, exercising visitation rights is much easier. Again, though, if it is determined that it is in the best interests of the child that the father not be given visitation rights, they may not be allowed to visit with their child.

It is important to keep in mind that the Court will act in the best interests of the child when determining whether the father, or mother for that matter, is allowed visitation rights and custody of the child. When seeking visitation rights, it is important to obtain a Court order, as without it, the custodial parent may in some cases refuse to let the non-custodial parent visit with the children.

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